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November 10, 2009

The Sacred Meal by Nora Gallagher

This book is written by Nora Gallagher and is called The Sacred Meal. It is part of a series designed to teach about some of the spiritual disciplines that have been historically important to Christianity called “The Ancient Practices Series.”

Communion is unique in the sense that of pretty much all spiritual practices, it is the one that is designed to be done in community. Communion is more than simply eating bread and drinking wine or juice. It can actually be practiced and she breaks it down into the waiting, receiving and “afterwards.” She describes each step so beautifully, from how we empty ourselves beforehand, to the difficult task of receiving with open and empty hands. One of my favorite images was about afterwards when she writes, “Transformation occurs in encounters, sometimes better named collisions, either with the self or with other or with the holy.”

She continues with a brief history of practices including food not just among Christians, but similar experiences in other religions. She touches on some of the beliefs surrounding the bread and wine itself and what sort of power they hold. Finally, she closes out with practical applications of how the practice of communion can help us as we venture outside the walls of the church.

I was really excited to read this series and this book did not let me down at all! Her liturgical background with communion actually made me want to experience some of the richness of the traditions that I was not raised with. If you have never experienced some of that richness yourself, you need to read this book. I can’t wait to check out the rest of the series.